Ford Focus WRC star Markko Martin led team-mate Francois Duval by eight seconds after two special stages of the Rallye de France in Corsica on Friday.

Ford Focus WRC star Markko Martin led team-mate Francois Duval by eight seconds after two special stages of the Rallye de France in Corsica on Friday.


On the day’s opening stage (the 32,89-kilometre Ampaza to Col St Eustache), Duval was 4,3 seconds faster than Martin, with Citroën team-mates Sainz (18,8 seconds off the pace) and Sébastien Loeb evenly-matched in third and fourth places.


Marcus Gronholm was fifth quickest for Peugeot, 26,6 seconds behind Duval, with Subaru’s Petter Solberg 36,3 seconds off the pace and already contemplating the end of his slim hopes of taking the title. Loeb only has to finish fourth to win the World Championship, even if Solberg wins.


However, Martin was more than 12 seconds quicker than Duval through the 27,78km Aullene to Arbellara stage (SS2). The Citroëns were again the best of the rest… Loeb edged ahead of his team-mate into third overall by a margin of just 0,3 seconds but was 37,5 seconds behind new leader Martin after two stages.


Gronholm was fifth quickest and just managed to keep his overall deficit to the rally leader under the one-minute mark. Solberg was sixth quickest, only 2,4 seconds faster than the privateer 2003-spec Impreza of Stephane Sarrazin, who was an impressive seventh on the stage. Cedric Robert’s factory Peugeot 307, Armin Schwarz’s Skoda Fabia and the privateer Peugeot 206 of Frenchman Alexandre Bengue rounded out the top 10 on the stage.